Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union at Minnesota United

Photo: Earl Gardner

Who: Philadelphia Union (9th place in the East, 31 points, 8-7-12) vs. Minnesota United (10th place in the West, 25 points, 7-4-14)
What: 2017 regular season
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
When: Saturday, September 9 at 8:00 pm
Watch: TCN, MLS Live

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the state of Minnesota in all of its late summer glory, put it on your bucket list. The sun glistening off the surface of each of the 11,842 lakes is a sight to be seen and most of these bodies of water this time of year are full of Minnesotan weekend warriors trying to catch themselves one last Walleye. Downtown Minneapolis is charming, too, with a visit to the stunning Viking mothership that is U.S. Bank Stadium and a run across the historic Stone Arch Bridge (with views of the Saint Anthony Falls section of the Mississippi River) among top recommendations. Or go without any agenda at all and see where the day takes you.

The 2017 Philadelphia Union travel to Minneapolis this weekend with the latter plan in mind. Abysmal on the road and with playoff elimination all but a mathematical formality, the team has nothing to do for themselves or to prove to a fanbase that is apathetically changing the proverbial channel.

Scouting Report: Minnesota United

Minnesota United are a team as old as the Philadelphia Union, but born into the North American Soccer League and not MLS. In their time in the lower division, they won a championship, made it to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup (the Round of 32 when MLS sides join), and were seen as competent enough to have their best player, Miguel Ibarra, be the first lower division American to play on the U.S. National Team (and subsequently sign with Mexican powerhouse, Club Leon). The Loons agreed on a stadium deal during their ascension, too, and will move to that downtown gem next season.

The team only made two significant missteps prior to making a first division leap: the first was releasing MLS all-timer and “Philly Tough” exemplar, Danny Cruz, and the second was getting rid of the best uniform in all of American soccer for well-intentioned but otherwise nondescript (and bad for TV) template kit.

After bringing up a few defenders from their NASL side, the first thing United did when building their MLS roster was go out and get creative, attacking players. They brought back Ibarra and signed former Orlando City SC standout, Kevin Molino. Theirs was a statement of intent that they would not back down from the quality of the league even though they were an expansion side. The team found out the downside of that mission when they allowed 18 goals in their first four matches. Since then, however, Minnesota is competitive and significantly more organized. The team sits just six points behind the Union in the full league table.

In their last two matches, the Loons have held their own against Seattle Sounders and gone to Bridgeview, IL and beaten Chicago Fire. Whether they come out in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, the team isn’t shy about being assertive, and with a playmaker as agile as Molino pulling the strings they can find the back of the net. Minnesota still hasn’t fully figured out its defensive issues, though, evidenced by recent 4-0 thumpings from Sporting KC and Seattle Sounders, as well as a 3-0 loss to New York Red Bulls.

The Loons aren’t a good team by any measure this season, but they are figuring themselves and the league out as the calendar grows long. The Union should expect a fight.

  • Injury Report: OUT – D Ambrose Oyongo (knee)
  • Suspensions: None
Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union play a 4-2-3-1 that is ineffective in attack because they lack a central playmaker and disjointed in defense because they lack consistent and clear communication. They have tried several solutions for their defensive issues but have not addressed their offensive ones and, despite mouth-watering moments or interesting one-off performances from Roland Alberg and Ilsinho, cannot be successful as they are currently constructed. Their tactics will be unchanged, and their starting eleven will have only a few minor tweaks.

Josh Yaro will miss this match because Union fans found out two weeks ago against Atlanta that his favorite Sublime song is clearly the B-Side duet featuring Gwen Stefani, “Saw Red.” Captain Alejandro Bedoya will also be out because, in the course of an otherwise solid performance against those very same Five Stripes, Union fans learned that his favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and his favorite song from that soundtrack is “Oh Yeah” by Yello.

  • Injury Report: OUT – M Fabian Herbers (groin), QUESTIONABLE – M Maurice Edu (leg), M Ken Tribbett (achilles)
  • Suspensions: D Josh Yaro, M Alejandro Bedoya
Players to watch: Chris Pontius

For almost the entirety of the 2015 season, Union fans with high hopes for local boy, Andrew Wenger, believed that his goal-scoring drought would end. “He’s due,” they said. It didn’t end. He wasn’t due.

Similarly, Union fans with high hopes in 2017 for 2016 Comeback Player of the Year, Chris Pontius, have believed that his goal-scoring drought would eventually end. Seems like he’s due.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 0-2 Minnesota United

The Union have given no indication that they can win a road match this season that isn’t played in a raccoon’s nest. Raccoons will eat anything, which is good news for those traveling to TCF Bank Stadium this weekend: a vendor named Curds and Cakes has set up shop in the stadium this season and they feature, perhaps not surprisingly, varieties of cheese curds and funnel cakes. You’ll find the happiest fans near this booth, win, lose, or draw.

8 Comments

  1. Cutting Danny Cruz is never a mistake. Agree on the kits though.

    • I was being a bit facetious, but also kind of hoping that we’re living in the multiverse where Danny gets a run on every MLS team by the time he retires. A reward for his tireless work ethic.

  2. not Jordan Spieth says:

    do not forget…
    …..Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden when you visit.
    .
    ….course there is always, Joy of the People too.
    .
    Minneapolis, MN. Great place.

  3. Wait.

    Are we really going to see Craecelle instead of Jones?

    fuck this tem.

  4. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I wont if Edu is ready for the game-day 18?

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